Planning Committee – 11 January 2017
2. Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interests, significant contact with applicants, objectors or third parties (Lobbying) and Whipping Arrangements (if any).
3. To take the minutes of the meeting held on 14 December 2016 as a correct record and authorise the chairman to sign.
4. Planning Application – MIN/2016/810 – Edgon Resources UK Ltd, Broughton & Appleby.
Planning Committee to have a short adjournment, to resume proceedings at approximately 2.45 – 3pm.
5. Applications deferred from previous meeting for a site visit.
6. Major Planning Applications
7. Planning and other applications for determination by the committee.
8. Any other items, which the chairman decides are urgent, by reasons of special circumstances, which must be specified.
Note: All reports are by the Head of Development Management unless otherwise stated.
Please note all other planning applications that were due to be discussed at this meeting will now be held on Wednesday 18 January 2017 at 2 pm.
PRESENT: – Councillor N Sherwood (Chairman)
Councillors Allcock (Vice-Chairman), Bainbridge, Collinson, L Foster, Glover, Grant, Mumby-Croft and Ogg, C Sherwood
Councillor(s) Briggs, Kataria, Kirk, Marper and Rowson attended the meeting in accordance with Procedure Rule 37(b).
The committee met at Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.
1782 DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS, SIGNIFICANT CONTACT WITH APPLICANTS OR THIRD PARTIES (LOBBYING) AND WHIPPING ARRANGEMENTS (IF ANY)
The following members declared a personal interest:-
|Member(s)||Minute||Application(s)||Nature of Interest|
|Cllr Allcock||1785(i)||MIN/2016/810||Previously worked for the Environment Agency.|
|Cllr Bainbridge||1785(i)||MIN/2016/810||Member of the Unite Union.|
|Cllr Briggs||General||Member of the Humberside Fire Brigade.|
|Officer of Unite Union and previous employee of British Steel.|
|Cllr L Foster
|Member of the Unite union and previous Employee of British Steel.|
|Previous employee of British Steel.|
|Cllr C Sherwood||1785(i)||MIN/2016/810||Previous employee of British Steel.|
The following members declared that they had been lobbied:-
|Cllr Allcock||MIN/2016/810 and
|Cllr Glover||MIN/2016/810 and
|Cllr N Sherwood
1783 COUNCIL CHAMBER – PUBLIC GALLERY – At the beginning of the meeting Councillor Grant requested that it be recorded that he was not in agreement with the public gallery being closed, and public observers being in another room watching the meeting on a live screening. The Chairman responded and clarified that it had been organised specifically on the grounds of public health and safety, due to expected numbers, and in conjunction with Police advice.
1784 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the proceedings of the meeting held on 14 December 2016, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the Chairman.
1785 (27) MAJOR APPLICATION – The Head of Development Management submitted a report containing details of major application for determination by the committee, including summaries of policy context, representations arising from consultation and publicity and assessment of the application.
(i) MIN/2016/810 by Edgon Resources UK Ltd for planning permission for the retention of the existing ‘Wressle 1 Well’ wellsite and access road for long-term production of hydrocarbons, Lodge Farm, Appleby, DN15 0DB.
The Head of Development Management updated the committee and informed it that following publication of the report another 13 additional objections had been received, and that they reiterated the concerns received from previous objections as detailed in the officer’s report. He also informed the committee that Anglian Water had also responded and had no objections to the proposal.
Five objectors addressed the committee each for the duration of five minutes and raised a number of concerns with regard to the application. In summary the majority of concerns were as follows:-
The Proposal would be contrary to Policy CS18 of the North Lincolnshire Core Strategy that stated that ‘The Council would actively promote development that utilised natural resources as efficiently and sustainably as possible’. They also indicated that the applicant had failed to acknowledge that contributing to carbon emissions through production of hydrocarbons was the opposite of sustainable development.
They felt that the applicants were misleading by disassociating their proposal from fracking, as the key features defining fracking would include fluid proppant being injected at very high pressure to open and keep open fractures in target rock. This was exactly what proppant squeeze was designed to do and therefore they believed that it was for fracking.
They also had concerns with regards to the wells and the toxic chemicals proposed for use on the site, highlighting that hydrofluoric acid was extremely dangerous, and their worries were that the site would rely on self-regulation, and believed that had failed in other instances.
The objectors felt that there were sufficient oil reserves in the North Sea, and that the proposal would increase dependence on fossil fuels and thereby delay the switch to clean, renewable energy. They felt that the development would result in the release of methane into the atmosphere.
Hydrology and Hydrogeology:-
A number of objectors raised strong concerns about the residential properties in the area, and in particular the water sources supplied to the properties. They stated that the site was in an area of hydrogeological sensitivity that was a Groundwater Vulnerability Zone close to several aquifers and Ella Beck. They said there was no guarantee that these water sources would not be contaminated via spills and leaks.
They felt that the development would destroy part of the countryside, and were worried about the nature reserve and ancient woodland around the site. They had concerns that the light, noise and air quality impacts of the development would impact on the protected species.
Concerns were raised about the potential for increased noise in the area. 24 hour drilling over several weeks, with compressors and pumps working daily, along with the potential for traffic noise from increased HGV’s.
There were also issues raised in general around the highways infrastructure in particular the B1208/A18 junction that was unsuitable for a large increase in HGV traffic, and the fact that they would be carrying dangerous chemicals to the site.
A statement from the Unite Union at British Steel raised worries about the boreholes at the Clapgate Pumphouse. They felt that there would be an impact on water yields to the boreholes that were crucial to the operations at British Steel. They questioned what guarantees the Environment Agency could give that the water would not be contaminated with dangerous chemicals.
The applicant and their agents then had 25 minutes to address the committee to try and alleviate some of the concerns raised above by the objectors, and to inform it of the processes and procedures to be used. The agent tried to assure the committee that the application was not fracking through the back door, and it was low carbon energy supply to try and accommodate the increased energy demand for the future in the UK.
Reference was made to ‘proppant squeeze’ and they stated that this was not a form of fracking. It was where a slurry of sand and gelled water was injected through the perforations in the casing into the surrounding rock to enhance flow through the near-wellbore sandstone formation. It was pumped under pressure to create small fractures in the near wellbore area to allow the well to flow efficiently. It would only affect an area of a few metres around the well.
They explained the difference between fracking used to produce oil and gas from shale or strata encased in shale, and the poppant squeeze as outline in the proposal.
The applicant referred to completing the acidisation first, and if that did not work it would not be repeated again. He also indicated that the proposal requested was the same as that used at the nearby Crosby Warren that caused no problems, and no harm to the ground water.
One of the speakers in support of the application highlighted the requirement for environmental permits to regulate the site, and assured the committee that they would have to be approved by the Environment Agency, as part of the requirements under the Water Resources Act 1991. He also tried to alleviate any concerns with regard to noise and traffic, and indicated that HGV movements would only last for a few days, and would not cause any problems. With regard to the worries around the ground water contamination, he reassured the committee that there was no risk to shallow ground waters and the Environment Agency would carry out rigorous sampling permits.
The agent referred to the concerns raised by the British Steel Union, and informed the committee that Egdon had sent all the relevant information to British Steel to alleviate any concerns, and the information received from the Environment Agency indicating that there was no risk. He said the Environment Agency would not issue any permits unless they were satisfied. With regard to the concerns raised on noise and light, he commented that there would be little noise, however, this was covered in the conditions if approved.
In summing up the proposal was described as a conventional oil and gas field similar to the ones already being used. It was on a small scale, for a short duration and would be applied once only.
Councillor Allcock having listened to all the arguments said prior to the meeting, having read all the literature he did have some concerns, one being the effect on the local aquifer, and two the clap gate water supply to British Steel. However, he felt these concerns had been answered during the meeting, and due to small diluted amounts of hydrofluoric acid being used he felt it acceptable to support the officer’s recommendation.
Councillor Mumby-Croft raised a number of concerns and in summary these were: how could the membrane around the site capture spillages, what would the effects be on the ground water in the area, and how serious would the risk be on the membrane being breached?
Councillor L. Foster thanked both sides for their impressive submissions, but he did have numerous concerns with the application. In particular the requirement put on the Environment Agency to regulate the permits and carry out regular sampling, and indicated he had no confidence in them to do so. He also referred to a decision taken by North Lincolnshire Council to support British Steel in Scunthorpe, and anything that could put any risk to that operation was contrary to the decision that was taken.
Councillor Grant agreed with Councillor L Foster and in doing so thanked the officer for a comprehensive report. He also indicated he had no confidence in the Environment Agency and would worry that the rigorous test would not be carried out to the detriment of the environment and local economy.
Councillor Collinson having listened to the arguments for and against said he had concerns with the process as he was told there was no risk with the operations to be carried out, but he had never heard of an operation where there was no risk. He did not feel comfortable with the process.
During proceedings the Head of Development Management and the legal officer responded to questions on aspects of the proposal, and if there was a possibility that extra conditions could be added, to which they responded accordingly. The committee then proceeded to have a debate around the issues discussed above before they voted on the decision.
Moved by Councillor Allcock and seconded by Councillor C Sherwood:-
That planning permission be granted in accordance with the recommendations contained within the report.
Moved by Councillor Grant and seconded by Councillor L Foster as an amendment:-
That planning permission be refused for the following reason:
Insufficient information has been submitted in support of the planning application to allay the concerns of the local planning authority with regard to ground contamination from both water run-off and the infiltration of water used in the development into water courses. The proposal would therefore have an unacceptable impact on local residents, the community and the local economy. The proposed development is therefore considered to be contrary to saved policies M23, DS13 and DS15 of the North Lincolnshire Local Plan (2003) and policy CS18 of the North Lincolnshire Core Strategy (2011).
Amendment Carried Substantive Motion Carried
1786 PLANNING AND OTHER APPLICATIONS – The Head of Development Management submitted a report incorporating a schedule containing details of applications for determination by the committee including summaries of policy context, representations arising from consultation and publicity and assessment of the applications. The Head of Development Management updated the reports orally where appropriate. Other officers attending gave advice and answered members’ questions as requested.
(i) PA/2016/808 by Edgon Resources UK Ltd for planning permission to install four groundwater monitoring boreholes at the existing Wressle 1 well site at Lodge Farm, Clapp Gate, Appleby, DN15 0DB. An objector spoke against the application and endorsed their concerns for the risk to the local economies and communities. She referred to the well path going under the main aquifer, and the depth of the bore holes being inadequate. Raising concerns that groundwater needed to be monitored at much deeper depths to give early indication of contamination, and that monitoring would have to be frequent and undertaken for at least a year to provide a true representation.
The agent spoke on behalf of the applicants and reiterate that the application was for four groundwater monitoring boreholes at the Wressle well site to monitor groundwater quality. He indicated that the installation of the boreholes would be completed between 3-5 days on site, and highlighted that there would be no impact on the local community, no objections for the statutory consultees and asked the committee to consider the application on its own merit.
Councillor Allcock supported the officer’s recommendation to grant permission. He stated that he was happy with the requirements to monitor the groundwater, and the analysis of the water that would be produced.
Resolved – That planning permission be granted in accordance with the recommendations contained within the report. (ii) PA/2016/1987 by Mr Trevor Steans, North Lincolnshire Council for application for the determination of the requirement for prior approval for the demolition of former Crosby Primary School at former Crosby Primary School, Frodingham Road, Scunthorpe, DN15 7NL.
Councillor Kirk as the ward member addressed the committee and indicated his, and his fellow ward member Councillor O’Sullivan’s concerns with the demolition of the whole site. They requested that the committee consider the retention of part of the Crosby School site and look at preservation of Site B, with the remainder of it being demolished.
The Head of Development Management informed the committee that this was for a permitted development order and not for the retention of any buildings, mainly due to the concerns from the Environmental Health Team.
Resolved – That prior approval be required.